Friday, November 28, 2008

Yes, Kids Really Do Love Them!

How often do you look at a kids' item and think to yourself, "Yeah, it's cute. But will my little one actually like it?"

This past week I had the opportunity to do some product testing on my own toddler who had come down with a cold. Even though I didn't want her to be sick, I was secretly excited to try out the set of Boogie Buddies that I had made just for her earlier in the fall. 

The result? She loves them! The cute little monkey print appealed to her love of all things monkey, while the soft minky and flannel fabrics kept the dreaded rosy nose at bay. 

Like most toddlers, my daughter will try to flop, squirm and scream her way out of anything she doesn't want to do so I wondered how the nose wiping process would go considering how much she can't stand regular facial tissue – and even baby wipes – touching her nose. Amazingly, she actually requested that I wipe her nose whenever it got too runny. No squirms. No screams. No fuss.

Happy toddlers make for happy mammas. And Boogie Buddies kept my run-down little toddler happy. 


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free Little Peanut Tea Bags!

Check out the EtsyMom Street Team blog for a chance to win this set of my Little Peanut Tea Company tea bagsYour little goober will love "brewing tea" using these miniature faux tea bags designed for pretend play. 

The contest ends tonight at 11:30 p.m. EST so be sure to place your entry soon! 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mother, sewer, teacher

"Nah nah. Nah nah. Nah nah!" To the untrained ear, those "words" uttered by my 17-month-old daughter probably sound like gibberish. But I know better.

At some point each day my little one runs into my craft room and points to the sewing machine. She looks at me expectantly and says, "Nah nah. Nah nah. Nah nah!" over and over until I ask her if she wants to sew. I'm rewarded with a big smile as she dances in place while I get my machine set up.

I pull up my chair and we get out her fabric, a little leftover swatch of chocolate colored cotton duck that I couldn't bear to toss out. She helps me put the fabric under the presser foot and watches as I sew line after line of stitches.

Sometimes, she shows her fabric to Daddy so he can see what we've done. Other times, she'll carry it around for a while then drop it somewhere in the house. It usually turns up later that night on the floor of her room or covering one of her "babies". Seeing it always makes me smile as I think of how my baby is growing up.

When she gets a little older, I'll buy her a tiny sewing machine just like my mom did for me. And I'll give her the gift of sewing, creativity and sweet memories.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sweet Little Jane

The Etsy community is filled with talented artists and crafters selling beautiful and unique pretend play items that help preserve the magic of childhood. This post is part of my weekly writing series, "Imagination at Play". Stay tuned for more every Friday!

Mix one part overstocked shelves and two parts over-commercialized licensed characters and you have a recipe for overwhelmed parents. Yes, the Christmas shopping season is already here, despite the fact that we haven't yet celebrated Thanksgiving. So what's a parent to do when faced with a sensory assault by an army of noise-and-lights toys?

Head on over to Etsy shop bluebirdblessings and breathe a sigh of relief. 

No licensed characters. No overly made-up plastic dolls. Just a whole bunch of adorable little guys and girls waiting for a home.

Every Sock Buddy and Jane Doll is made with love and care by shop owner Danielle who transforms ordinary socks and fabric into a child's best friend. "I love watching a sock or plain fabric turn into a doll with personality," she said. "It is such a good feeling to know that my dolls are brightening a child’s day and hopefully helping to settle them down at night even. How does it get better than that?"

Danielle got her start on Etsy after her daughter was born. Like many parents of young children, she was concerned about the many toy recalls that were happening a few years ago. But instead of simply buying other "safe" commercially made toys, she took a step back and really thought about what she wanted from a toy. "Obviously you want safety and entertainment, but it also made me see that simple play created learning," she explained. "It's usually not the 'bells and whistles' toys that keep a child's attention. We all laugh at the fact that the box is usually what they like most about a gift, but really why is that? I think it's because it leaves room for imagination that sets no limits on what a 'box' can be."

Take one look at Danielle's Sock Buddies and Jane Dolls and you'll agree: simple is definitely better. The sweet little faces and chubby bodies of the Sock Buddies are perfect for young children still learning how to care for their "babies". The Jane Dolls, with their hand embroidered faces and felt Mary Jane shoes, will be a cherished best friend for an older girl. Jane, of course, loves tea parties, grand adventures or anything else your little girl is interested in.

Ultimately, Danielle has one wish for each of her Jane Dolls and Sock Buddies when they are sent to their new homes: that they bring endless hours of play to the children who love them, and perhaps even a little bit of soothing when it's time to wind down for bed at night. 

Danielle knows that her dolls are also there to help parents teach their children how to interact with others. "Relationship skills start at home, but I do believe dolls really open the door for teaching about relationships and caring for others," she said. "You can see how your child perceives you when they play with their own 'baby'. My daughter loves her dolls and I love to watch her with them. It's neat to see her mimic what I do with her."

I encourage you to check out bluebirdblessings this Christmas season. Perhaps your little one will find a "baby" to love and cherish, a doll that will be passed down from one generation to the next.

Monday, November 17, 2008

17 Days Left

The running joke in my house lately is that I'm running a one-woman sweatshop out of my craft room. With only 17 crafting days left until my first craft fair, I'm working overtime to boost my inventory, create displays and design a t-shirt for the big day. Today, I worked assembly line style and was able to finish seven crayon wallets. I'm impressed with my output so far, but I have a long way to go before I'm ready. There are definitely many late nights in my future.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Mystery No More

I finally finished my Etsy Mystery Supply Box project today and I'm thrilled with how it turned out. What started out as a piece of cotton duck fabric and a handful of felt flowers has been transformed into an adorable – if I do say so myself – crayon wallet

The beauty of this project is that I didn't have to buy anything to put it together. The chocolate cotton duck fabric was perfect for the body of the wallet. Normally I'd line my crayon wallets with a neutral cotton duck, but I loved the color so much that I used it for the exterior. The little felt flowers look so friendly inviting – I simply glued then hand stitched them on to add a decorative touch to the wallet's exterior. And that sweet red fabric on the exterior? That's leftover from a doll quilt I made for my shop recently.

I had so much fun with this project, even though I was a bit nervous when I first opened the box. There are so many wonderful beads, wooden doo-dads, papers and yarns inside... but very little for a sewer to work with. Fortunately, the one piece of fabric in the box was perfect for creating my sweet little crayon wallet. I guess I know what I'll be adding to the box before I ship it out to the next Etsian... fabric!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wearable Magic

The Etsy community is filled with talented artists and crafters selling beautiful and unique pretend play items that help preserve the magic of childhood. This post is part of my weekly writing series, "Imagination at Play". Stay tuned for more every Friday!

Children love wearing special outfits, especially dress-up clothes. Fire fighter uniforms, princess tu-tus and pirate hats transport your little one into extraordinary worlds. Most dress-up clothes aren't meant for all day wear, of course, which can be disappointing for little ones with active imaginations.

Fortunately, there is a place where you can find wearable magic – dress-up clothes designed for everyday use. Sneak a peak inside Etsy shop MyBohoBabyStore and you'll find an entire line of everyday dress-up clothes called WingedKids. Each WingedKids t-shirt, baby bodysuit and dress has been given a set of dragon or fairy wings... and of course sprinkled with a bit of magic to make it extra special. And if you're looking for more traditional dress-up clothes, like a custom cape or mermaid dress they have that too.

Shop owner Jennifer Lubao first started making her winged creations when her daughter was a toddler. The idea of winged t-shirts and clothing took root after she purchased a fairy costume for her daughter at a local boutique store. A life-long sewer, it was natural for Jennifer to try her hand at making her own magical creations.

Jennifer enjoys working with her customers to create new designs for her shop. "I love how creative my customers get with NEW ideas!! My latest one has been a good friend who came up with putting wings on her mei tai," she said. Many of her customers' children wear their WingedKids shirts so often they come back for more!

That creativity spills over into everything she makes, and it's clear that she wants her dress-up clothes to inspire creativity in the children who wear them. "I want them to feel the magic that exists every day! You are only little once and being that fairy or mermaid out in the everyday world can be real."

Looking to sprinkle a little magic into your child's wardrobe? Stop on by MyBohoBabyStore for Jennifer's fun and magical winged creations. There are plenty of great options for boys and girls. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Etsy Mystery Box Arrived!

A few months ago, I discovered the Etsy Mystery Box in a thread on the Etsy forums. Another seller came up with the idea to pack a flat rate postage box full of supplies and send it on to other Etsians. Each recipient would take something out of the box and use it to make something for her shop, then post photos online for the rest of the group to see. Once the person was finished with the box, he'd add goodies from his own stash of supplies (fabric, beads, paper, yarn or whatever he has on hand) then ship it off to the next person on the list.

I'm excited to report that the Etsy Mystery Box arrived on my doorstep this weekend! My daughter and I had so much fun looking through all of the goodies packed inside, although she just liked pulling things out and putting them back in. After sifting through bags of shiny beads, pretty papers and nifty wooden "thingies" (what they're for, I have no idea!), I picked out some chocolate cotton duck fabric and yellow felt flower cutouts for my Mystery Box Project.

So what am I going to make? Well, I'm going to keep that a secret for a few days... at least until it's finished. But feel free to check out the Etsy Mystery Box Flickr group to see what others have made. And if you're an Etsy seller, you can even sign up to receive the box and join the fun!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mamma's Night In

It's Friday night and I'm sitting in our darkened hotel room in Anaheim, typing by the light of my laptop as my daughter slumbers peacefully in the bed next to me. My hubby has already gone back to Disneyland with our friends, who arrived today after a 15-hour drive from Oregon. 

So it's just me and my thoughts for the next few hours. Normally, I'd be writing my Friday night feature for "Imagination at Play", but I didn't choose a shop this week because I figured I'd be too busy and tired from walking around Disneyland all day to write. Little did I know that my little one would be up at 5:30 a.m. this morning and would only take a 45-minute nap, leaving her completely exhausted by 5 p.m.

My daughter is an amazing child. She's never, in her entire 16 month life, fallen asleep on my shoulder or in the stroller. It doesn't matter how tired she is - she must lay down and nurse to sleep. Today, fatigue hit her so quickly and unexpectedly that her eyes were began closing during dinner. The poor thing... her eyes were drooping and she was leaning forward, but she kept eating while we rushed to finish dinner so we could get her back to the hotel for bed.

I held her the entire walk to the hotel and she refused lay her head on my shoulder, even though she was clearly exhausted. I've never seen her more tired before. Once we got to our room, we went from diapering to nursing to sleeping in a matter of minutes.

I can hardly remember the last time that I had this much time to myself, with absolutely no chores or freelance work to do. Maybe before she was born? It doesn't matter. I have it now, it's time I enjoyed it. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Keeping Doodle Bugs Happy

As a mom I know just how tough it can be to keep a little one happy and occupied while waiting for food to arrive at a restaurant or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office. My daughter is only 16 months old, but I'm already looking for things I can bring with me to keep her happy while we play the waiting game.

I saw some crayon rolls posted on Etsy a while back and I got to thinking about how I could improve on a great idea. After a night of brainstorming and pattern making, I whipped up a couple of these Crayon Wallets for my shop.

There's so many things I love about my latest creation. 
  • They're made using scrap fabric, which makes the Craft Rat in me very excited. 
  • They've got pockets for crayons and scratch paper, which keep kids busy and moms relaxed (at least for a few minutes!).
  • The pockets all face the center of the wallet so nothing will fall out and get lost in the bottom of a purse or diaper bag.
  • The wallets close with hook-and-loop tape (a.k.a. velcro), which means that kids can open and close the wallet by themselves. I thought a lot about this part of the design –what good is a crayon keeper if the kids need mom to open and close it?
Right now, I have two Crayon Wallets in my shop: one in a modern bouquet print and another in a tropical sharks print. I'm planning to have eight more completed by Dec. 5, which is the date of my first craft fair. I know a lot of the folks attending the craft fair are parents, so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping these wallets will be a hot item.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Meet Dudley Woofington

Dudley Woofington is a dapper little fellow who enjoys scones at tea time, fine wines and a bit of brandy by the fire at night. Just don't ask him how his latest game of squash turned out. He's still a little sore about losing to Mr. Mortimer Merryweather (a very well-dressed mouse who lives in a tiny house nestled in the base of a big tree in our yard) yesterday.

This is one of my favorite handmade toys, one that I plan to save for future generations to enjoy. My mom knit Dudley for my daughter shortly after she was born last year and he's been a favorite ever since she rediscovered him a few months back.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Sweet Finish

Last night I put the finishing touches on the doll quilt I've been working on for my shop. After much debate (and several miserable attempts to hand and machine quilt it), I decided not to quilt it at all. Instead, I tied it off with yarn, the way my mom used to do when she made blankets for us when we were kids. I think it gives the quilt a sweet finish. 

You can find all the details on this cute little quilt in my shop.